Europe

Calais migrants urged to leave 'Jungle' ahead of clearance

  • 14 January 2016
  • From the section Europe
Media caption'Containers are the same as jail'

Hundreds of migrants living in the Calais camp known as the "Jungle" are being asked to leave before bulldozers move in to clear tents away.

French police have given residents days to vacate a third of the makeshift camp.

They are being offered accommodation in a new housing project as part of attempts to improve conditions.

But the plans have been met with some defiance, and some migrants are reportedly reluctant to move.

The French government plans to transfer at least 500 migrants and refugees to converted shipping containers fitted with electricity and heating.

The authorities had given residents until Thursday evening to leave the camp, but they will reportedly have a grace period until Monday.

The police want to move the migrants away from the motorway and nearby houses for security reasons.

But many are unhappy about leaving an area where they have established a community, and are concerned about their future treatment by the authorities.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Containers have been put into place to house several hundred migrants living in what is known as the "Jungle"

The containers can house 12 people each, and the full capacity of the housing project is 1,500 people - far fewer than the 4,000 reportedly living in the Jungle.

French and British officials want to reduce the number of migrants in Calais and deter others from arriving in the hope of crossing to the UK.

'Not humane'

Migrants at another camp near Dunkirk are being offered tents that are more suitable for winter conditions.

A new semi-permanent camp in Grande-Synthe, co-ordinated with the charity Medecins sans Frontieres, will have showers, better sanitation and more protection against cold weather.

MSF executive director, Vickie Hawkins, who visited the Dunkirk camp last week, said the current situation could not continue.

"We just simply can't leave people to freeze in the mud. It's inhuman."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Wasteland around the Eurotunnel terminal has been flooded to stop migrants trying to enter

Local official Fabienne Buccio told AFP news agency she understood the "apprehension" of some migrants in the Calais Jungle towards the move.

"Given everything these people have been through before they got here, they don't have any immediate confidence in what's happening," she said.

Major efforts to tighten security around the port had heightened tensions in recent days, she added.

Eurotunnel has flooded an area of wasteland around the Channel Tunnel terminal to prevent migrants reaching the site.

At least 18 people have died since last June trying to get across the Channel, according to AFP.

On Thursday, a former soldier who was caught trying to smuggle an Afghan child from the migrants' camp at Calais into the UK was given a suspended fine by a court in France.

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